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Last post Author Topic: Seagate's Barracuda 7200.11 drives failing at alrming rate?  (Read 22118 times)

mouser

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Seagate's Barracuda 7200.11 drives failing at alrming rate?
« on: January 13, 2009, 03:35:39 PM »
Now this is not good news..  remember to back up everything people..

Quote
SEAGATE'S FLAGSHIP desktop Barracuda 7200.11 drives, in particular the 1TB (ST31000340AS) units, are failing at an alarming rate and prompting outrage from their faithful customers.

A new self-bricking feature apparently resides in faulty firmware microcode which will rear its ugly head sometime at boot detection. Essentially the drive will be working as normal for a while, then - out of the blue - it'll brick itself to death. The next time you reboot your computer the drive will simply lock itself up as a failsafe and won't be detected by the BIOS. In other words, there's power, spin-up, but no detection to enable booting.
...
According to data recovery experts Seagate has diagnosed the problem and issued a new firmware to address it. However, drives that have already been affected can't have the firmware applied to them due to their locked-down status.


Carol Haynes

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Re: Seagate's Barracuda 7200.11 drives failing at alrming rate?
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2009, 04:37:34 PM »
There comes a surprise ... the Barracuda line has had a very mixed reputation ever since the first versions were released.

I bought 2 to run in striped RAID when they first came out. Guess what - there was a bug in the microcode that meant when you put them into a RAID setup they were significantly slower than a single drive. I sent them back!

Darwin

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Re: Seagate's Barracuda 7200.11 drives failing at alrming rate?
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2009, 04:42:51 PM »
Please, please, please don't let this be a problem with their notebook drives as well  :o
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

superboyac

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Re: Seagate's Barracuda 7200.11 drives failing at alrming rate?
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2009, 04:47:03 PM »
That sucks.  What compounds the problem is that Seagate just changed their 5-year warranty to 3-years (for most of their consumer drives).  Changing the warranty policy and increased drive failure doesn't jive.  I've been a big Seagate fan for years primarily due to their 5-year policy, but I just switched to Western Digital for my new computer.  WD has a 5-year policy on most of their drives, I think.

I don't know about anyone else, but the length of the warranty is almost the only thing I consider when choosing a drive.  I'll take a 5-year warranty over 3-year any time.  Because I backup redundantly, I don't worry about data loss, I just want a new drive without a hassle.  5 years is a long time.  Seagate sent me a new drive, no problem, last time.  When you don't have to worry about losing your data, what else is there to consider?  Noise and speed are negligible, assuming your comparing similar drives (I'm not talking about comparing a 10k Raptor to a 7200k Seagate, more like 7200 vs 7200).

So Seagate seems to be losing ground now.  This news couldn't come at a worse time.  If I were them, I'd put the warranty back to 5-years, or else I'd assume that users will flock to WD.  I did.

zridling

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Re: Seagate's Barracuda 7200.11 drives failing at alrming rate?
« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2009, 04:59:58 PM »
I agree, and I've relied on Seagate for years. Difference is, though, I always spend the extra for the NS drives, which are built to run 24/7 for at least a million hours. Haven't had a problem yet, but that doesn't mean this isn't bad news for Seagate. Failure cannot be tolerated in a HD!

superboyac

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Re: Seagate's Barracuda 7200.11 drives failing at alrming rate?
« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2009, 06:15:55 PM »
I agree, and I've relied on Seagate for years. Difference is, though, I always spend the extra for the NS drives, which are built to run 24/7 for at least a million hours. Haven't had a problem yet, but that doesn't mean this isn't bad news for Seagate. Failure cannot be tolerated in a HD!
Do the NS drives come with 5-year warranty?

raybeere

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Re: Seagate's Barracuda 7200.11 drives failing at alrming rate?
« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2009, 07:01:48 PM »
Now this is not good news..  remember to back up everything people..

Thank God I'm not using one; the stress would kill me. ;) Yes, I back up. I've also heard of a few folks who have had two drives fail within a week of each other. I know that's long odds, but any time I don't have two drives working, I panic. Optical media won't last long enough to rely on (I've had some discs fail in a month or less), flash drive prices are too high still to let me back up all my data that way, and online storage is not terribly reliable (I've seen a whitepaper on all the factors affecting data preservation in that type of setting, some of which include variables unknown even to the companies providing the storage) and costs too much, and a failing hard drive is one of my nightmares.

As for backing up, good advice, I agree, and one far too few folks take seriously. I suppose if your data doesn't mean much to you, you can afford to roll the dice. For anyone with irreplaceable work in digital form, making backups ought to be such a habit you don't even think about it - you just do it. At least, that's my opinion. Oh, I'll feel a little sympathy for someone who just lost all their irreplaceable files, especially in a case like this one, but when they say "I just didn't have time to back things up" I wonder just what they were doing for the past few months or years that wouldn't let them at least take ten minutes to set up and schedule a backup job. (I do mine more manually, just so I can be sure things go as they should.) It's a habit that's saved me more than once.

f0dder

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Re: Seagate's Barracuda 7200.11 drives failing at alrming rate?
« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2009, 07:27:49 PM »
I was close to buying a couple of 500gig Seagate drives when one of the 400gig WDs in my fileserver died - good thing I did a bit of googling first, seems like a lot of people have problems with Seagate... not just self-bricking, but bad sectors as well.

So in the end I went for 2x640gig WD6401AALS (caviar black) drives. Iirc only "consume grade" (8hr/day), but still 5 years warranty... "server grade" (24/7) didn't stop that 400gig drive from dying, so whatever - I'm not sure there's much difference between "consumer" and "server" grade drives these days anyway, except pricetag. And warranty doesn't mean that much to me, except perhaps as an idea how much faith the manufacturers have in their product. Often you're going to get a refurbished drive if you use the warranty, and there's a pretty long turnaround time.
- carpe noctem

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Re: Seagate's Barracuda 7200.11 drives failing at alrming rate?
« Reply #8 on: January 13, 2009, 07:47:25 PM »
several years in parts retails business has taught me well enough to avoid Seagate. even though they had bought very good companies like Quantum and Maxtor, unfortunately they hadn't learned newer and superior techniques from the bought over companies.

xtabber

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Re: Seagate's Barracuda 7200.11 drives failing at alrming rate?
« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2009, 10:08:52 PM »
Seagate replaced their CEO yesterday.  Wonder if it had anything to do with the reliability rumors. FWIW, I've had better luck with Seagate than WD or Hitachi over the years, but the warranty change from 5 to 3 yrs worries me because it indicates a new lack of confidence in the quality of the product.

nosh

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Re: Seagate's Barracuda 7200.11 drives failing at alrming rate?
« Reply #10 on: January 13, 2009, 10:47:53 PM »
I'm running two of these for around four months now, as my primary and mirror data drives.  :'(
Picked them because they were slightly faster than most of the other 1TBs.


Quote
According to data recovery experts Seagate has diagnosed the problem and issued a new firmware to address it. However, drives that have already been affected can't have the firmware applied to them due to their locked-down status.

Looks like I've got some work to do. Thanks for the heads up, mouser!

a_lunatic

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Re: Seagate's Barracuda 7200.11 drives failing at alrming rate?
« Reply #11 on: January 13, 2009, 10:53:47 PM »
Well I got 3 Barracuda 7200.11 ST3500320AS drives & have had problems ever since using them like random bsod's that are never the same so I think they must be the problem.  >:(

I did a search but couldn't find anything so is there a new firmware out for them as the one's I got have SD15.

gpetrant

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Re: Seagate's Barracuda 7200.11 drives failing at alrming rate?
« Reply #12 on: January 14, 2009, 12:13:11 AM »
My info is that the problem(s) resides mainly with their 7200.11 series drives.  The 7200.10 seem solid.  I've been using two of their SATA 300 7200.10 (320 GB each) for over a year now, and am very satisfied with their performance.  Plus a 5 year warranty makes them even more attractive.

Related to this topic: the one and greater TB drives are a natural progression, but are they not headed for extinction in the consumer market?  I know that so-called 'cloud computing' is a bit over-hyped, but for pennies a month, I can store GBs of stuff on Amazon's hard drives through their S3 service.  The beauty of that solution: I don't need anything bigger than a 500 Gig drive to easily accommodate all my software as well as most frequently accessed data.  The rest (especially redundant backups) can be warehoused off site (which is advantageous because a physical catastrophe like fire, flooding, or theft, could wipe out all your backups if they reside at the same location). 

(The important stuff (like porn 'research data') I keep locally, of course.   :-*)   
Shywolf

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Re: Seagate's Barracuda 7200.11 drives failing at alrming rate?
« Reply #13 on: January 14, 2009, 12:37:56 AM »
Related to this topic: the one and greater TB drives are a natural progression, but are they not headed for extinction in the consumer market?
I don't think so - ADSL (which is the most common connection method in .dk afaik) is still limited to 2mbit/s upstream, and the fastest common downstream is 20mbit/s (50mbit/s is in testing, but even 20mbit/s isn't widely available). Also, you need to live close to a switching central to get that kind of speed, and it's still relatively expensive. I'd guess the average connection speed is something like 2048/256 kbit/s...

Harddrives are something like 90/75 mbyte/s - that's more than an order of magnitude faster than the fastest widely available consumer internet connections. And it's going to stay that way for quite a while, fiber is being rolled out very slowly (and lately there's been some problems for the energy companies that have been responsible for a lot of the fiber rolling-out business).

Remote backups would be cute (but ugh, the thought of backing up a terabyte of data with 2mbit/s...), but incremental backups are not everything. It wouldn't be that weird having a terabyte storage for movies for your HTPC :)
- carpe noctem

Darwin

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Re: Seagate's Barracuda 7200.11 drives failing at alrming rate?
« Reply #14 on: January 14, 2009, 12:46:22 AM »
Good points, f0dder, and my experience exactly. I've tried a number of on-line backup solutions but use none of them because it's just too painful trying to upload any of the data I am interested in preserving. I'm far happier making backups to harddrives and storing them off-site for safe keeping... Hang on  :o I'm not actually storing any of my backups off-site! I've got about 6 external harddrives full of backups all lined up on a shelf. Not too bright...
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

nosh

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Re: Seagate's Barracuda 7200.11 drives failing at alrming rate?
« Reply #15 on: January 14, 2009, 01:15:56 AM »
Did some (rather frustrating) research on the issue - there's supposed to be a preventive firmware upgrade that's linked to on the newegg comments page (600+ posts there, IIRC)

The file's been linked to in an AVSforum thread but someone also mentioned in the same thread that the fix is for the ST31000340AS (1.5 TB) model, so exercise caution before applying any firmware updates!

The problem seems to mainly hit drives made in Thailand running the SD15 firmware and occurs at boot time.

AFAICT, there's no firmware update available for the 1 TB ST31000340AS model mentioned in mouser's original post, SD15 being the latest firmware version.

The reports of failure seem to be very mixed, I'd be suspicious about a malicious campaign were it not for established forum members posting negative feedback. There's one user who says he lost THREE of these drives overnight and another who says he's been running around twenty of them for over a year without a single one dying.

a_lunatic, I haven't experienced any BSODs on my system (other than the ones that sometimes occur at bootup, which have been attributed to Acronis - something I've learned to live with). I don't think there are any reports of random BSODs associated with these drives so your problem may lie elsewhere.

If anyone hears of an official fix from Seagate please update this thread, no matter when it happens. I've been backing everything up to other sources too and the drives come with a solid 5 year warranty but I'll sleep much better if I know I don't have a couple of time bombs ticking inside the box.

nosh

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Re: Seagate's Barracuda 7200.11 drives failing at alrming rate?
« Reply #16 on: January 14, 2009, 01:29:35 AM »
I don't know about anyone else, but the length of the warranty is almost the only thing I consider when choosing a drive.  I'll take a 5-year warranty over 3-year any time.  Because I backup redundantly, I don't worry about data loss, I just want a new drive without a hassle.

I also give a lot of importance to the length of the warranty - it shows the level of confidence the manufacturer has in the product. The trouble with hard drive replacement is that I HATE the fact that all my "unusable" data is going into someone else's hands. I've thought about Truecrypting my entire system or atleast the data drives but that apparently delivers a substantial hit to performance.  :(

PS: Maybe I should invest in a powerful electromagnet  :P - seriously, would that work?
« Last Edit: January 14, 2009, 01:34:25 AM by nosh »

a_lunatic

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Re: Seagate's Barracuda 7200.11 drives failing at alrming rate?
« Reply #17 on: January 14, 2009, 05:12:30 AM »
I think I may have pinned my problem down to v15.23 nforce driver as I started using it when I got the new drives & the problems started happening which is why I was thinking it was the drives.

I had a few bsod's on XP & a lot on vista x64 when using the v15.23 nforce drivers so now I am back to XP with v9.35 nforce drivers.

gpetrant

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Re: Seagate's Barracuda 7200.11 drives failing at alrming rate?
« Reply #18 on: January 14, 2009, 06:52:24 AM »
Quote
Hang on  ohmy I'm not actually storing any of my backups off-site! I've got about 6 external harddrives full of backups all lined up on a shelf. Not too bright...

Darwin, if I may share an easy solution to your dilemma.  Please be patient as I fumble for the right words, but this is what I do:  I leave an external hard drive laying on the nightstand in my bed computer room.  Whenever I entert...umm...share my love of computing with a computer geekess, they always ask about it when they see it for the first time (women have an insatiable curiosity).  I give them my canned response 'it contains very sensitive material that could seriously damage my career, and so I keep it on my nightstand where I can see it at all times.'  Now, as well as being insatiably curious, they love a challenge.  The next morning, I break up with her terminate our mutually beneficial platonic friendship as I leave, and ask her to lock up before she goes.  At that point, she's mad as hell and that external hard drive represents everything a woman could want for revenge purposes, so she takes it with her.  To date, I have 6 external drives spread out across Canada, 5 in the US, and 1 in Mexico (I think.  Is Tijuana in Mexico?  Anybody?).  All contain redundant backups using BLOWFISH encryption, and all are safely offsite as we speak.  You're probably asking how I intend to get any of them back?  See, that's the beauty of it: I don't know yet, but I have plenty of time to think of a way in the meantime.  Like my mom used to always say: 'Einstein didn't come up with Relativity overnight.  He slept on it first.'   :huh:

(To any youngsters reading this: please do not try this at home.  Timing is everything.  I once shared this technique with a really close friend.  Unfortunately, during the break-up phase, he lingered a little too long afterward.  He...he was struck in the head by his own external hard drive.  Poor bast guy hasn't been the same since.)   :-[   
Shywolf

mouser

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Re: Seagate's Barracuda 7200.11 drives failing at alrming rate?
« Reply #19 on: January 14, 2009, 06:55:36 AM »
 ;D ;D ;D

40hz

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Re: Seagate's Barracuda 7200.11 drives failing at alrming rate?
« Reply #20 on: January 14, 2009, 07:43:41 AM »
qpetrant: Always offer to defrag your (geek/ess)'s hard drive. But not on the first date. ;)

« Last Edit: January 14, 2009, 07:49:41 AM by 40hz »

Darwin

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Re: Seagate's Barracuda 7200.11 drives failing at alrming rate?
« Reply #21 on: January 14, 2009, 09:11:22 AM »
Cunning plan, gepetrant. I wonder how Mrs. Darwin would react... ?!
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

40hz

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Re: Seagate's Barracuda 7200.11 drives failing at alrming rate?
« Reply #22 on: January 14, 2009, 09:42:57 AM »
Cunning plan, gepetrant. I wonder how Mrs. Darwin would react... ?!

Predictably, I would imagine. ;)

Darwin

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Re: Seagate's Barracuda 7200.11 drives failing at alrming rate?
« Reply #23 on: January 14, 2009, 10:06:39 AM »
Cunning plan, gepetrant. I wonder how Mrs. Darwin would react... ?!

Predictably, I would imagine. ;)

Yes, the words "harddrive" "insertion" and "extended hospital stay" all figure prominently in my imagined runnings of the scenario  :o
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

f0dder

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Re: Seagate's Barracuda 7200.11 drives failing at alrming rate?
« Reply #24 on: January 14, 2009, 11:06:19 AM »
qpetrant: Always offer to defrag your (geek/ess)'s hard drive. But not on the first date. ;)
Wouldn't that offend a geekess? Kinda like if you asked a math major if she needs help with her algebra assignments? :)
- carpe noctem